When I first started writing this book, it came to me in the middle of the night. I was fighting sleep, playing games on my phone. Let's be honest, I knew I was tired, I've read all about how being on your phone before bed doesn't help you sleep. Did I care? Nope! I was yawning so hard that tears were streaming down my cheeks. I had to blink quickly so that I could see the colors of the pieces I was swiping across my screen with my thumb. I could have put the phone down, I could have settled in my bed and closed my eyes, I could have counted sheep. Sleep wouldn't have evaded me very long, as all my yawning was showing me. Did I do any of those things? Nope! 

    I have always had a very active brain. I say brain instead of imagination because I wasn't one of those kids that had imaginary friends or played make believe all the time. Active though, yes definitely. There were always stories playing in my mind and they evolved into more complex stories as I got older. Maybe like schizophrenia? Maybe not, that's probably a bad comparison. I had that normal voice in my head, letting me know the difference between right and wrong. My Jiminy Cricket worked just fine. I had more though. I had other voices living out their lives like a movie in my mind. No they didn't tell me to do things but they entertained me. They evolved with my brain and they told me stories. They fluffed up my running life story with their own additives and their own endings. I didn't know that more than that one voice was not the normal for everyone. Didn't everyone enjoy the many scripts running inside their minds? 

    When I was a teenager, I tried to put their stories on paper. I wanted to be able to record their stories for myself and to share. During my teenage years was when I realized I wanted to be an author. I wanted to have the ability to take my various stories and share them with other. I wanted to have the ability to make my words a universe for others to enjoy. I wanted to give other people the escape of getting caught up in a book so much that they forgot their own problems. Books had always done that for me. George R. R. Martin said, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one." I fully believe that. I wanted to give that to people.

    No one, absolutely no one, starts out being a perfectly amazing author. It takes work, practice, and then MORE work and MORE practice. You have to start somewhere. I started with pen and paper and not a clue where it was going to end up. I wrote three small books. Novellas filled with the stories rolling around in my mind. I didn't stop, I just put pen to paper and let it happen. I still love using pen and paper. It's not for everyone but the physical act of my hand movements while using a pen on paper is therapeutic for me. I don't remember how many pens I went through but I remember writing so much that I ran out of ink a couple of times. I wrote down everything. I didn't edit it, I didn't reread and change things, I just wrote. 

    One of my first critiques came from those novellas. I was stupidly naïve about letting my work be read by family, when I would have been better off giving them to strangers. My family was harsh and discouraging, effectively making me doubt my ability to ever accomplish my dreams. I don't know how many of you have ever experienced that or how many beautifully successful authors went through that and came out on top but it was awful. It was debilitating. I threw out the novellas and didn't create another for almost a decade. That's not to say I didn't write. I wrote down everything from my every day experiences to my new goals and new dreams. I gave up on being an author and just journaled my life away. 

    Let's skip a few years and get to the cell phone era. Aren't cell phones amazing?? They give you unprecedented access to literally everything and those games...yes please! Those games helped me escape so many things but they never succeeded in helping me escape all those voices in my mind. Those characters that ran their own life stories as movies made just for me. The characters got more advanced, louder, and more needy. They got harder to ignore as I got older. They seemed to directly talk at me instead of just running their own stories behind the scenes. They offered little tidbits here and there, showing me different versions of how life could have played out. Until one very early morning two and a half years ago, they screamed at me. I was swiping away on my phone screen (getting in all those necessary thumb exercises) and an opening line screamed inside of my mind. I was yawning, refusing to give into sleep and the voices screamed; just one line. 

There ought to be a law against stealing someone's bright and shimmering soul and chopping away at it until it fits into your tiny little box. 

    I wrote it down on a journal that I had sitting next to my bed and I just stared at it. I stared at it through bleary, tired eyes. I must have reread it a hundred times. It didn't change, the words just stayed there, almost mocking me. I closed the journal and set it back down on my nightstand. As I laid my head on the pillow and stared up at the ceiling, I noticed the characters in my head were quieter. They were just the tiniest bit more quiet than they had been in a long time.